Expungement or record sealing removes your criminal record from public view. This can help you get on with your life without having a criminal record following you. Connecticut calls the process “erasure of criminal record,” and in many cases, it is automatic.
What Are Expungement and Record Sealing?
In the strictest terms, record sealing blocks public access to your criminal file. Expungement actually destroys the record so it no longer exists. Sealed files can sometimes be re-opened, but usually only under extraordinary circumstances.
Connecticut's erasure of criminal records is similar to sealing. After an erasure, the court may no longer admit to the records' existence, but the records do exist. Law enforcement officials and certain other agencies may access them for specific reasons, but they will usually need a court order.
If you request that erased records be physically destroyed, the person in charge of those files must do so.
An expungement pardon, also called an absolute pardon, erases your full criminal history, but it doesn't physically destroy the files.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
Certain types of criminal records are automatically erased after a specific period of time. These are generally those where you were not convicted:
Youthful offender records are automatically erased when you turn 21, provided you are no longer under court supervision or the care of another institution. In addition,you must not have committed any additional youthful offenses or felonies.
If you were convicted of a juvenile offense, you may petition for erasure either two or four years after discharge from court supervision or custody, depending on the offense. Additional requirements apply, including that you have reached the age of age 18 and have not committed any additional crimes.
Adults convicted of a crime that was later decriminalized may petition the courts to erase the records. These files are always physically destroyed. The only way to erase other adult convictions is with an expungement pardon. You may apply for an expungement pardon three years after final disposition of your most recent misdemeanor, or five years after conclusion of your most recent felony case.
How Do I File a Petition?
Because records associated with non-convictions are automatically erased, you need only make a request for erasure or pardon if you have been convicted of a crime.
Juvenile offenders must file a Petition of Erasure of Record with the court for erasure of all police and court records. This simple form asks for the docket number of your case, the police case number, and your date of discharge.
You must file an application with the Board of Pardons and Paroles to get an expungement pardon. The application must detail your full criminal history, including convictions in other states. You must also include other supporting documents:
Your state police criminal history
The incident reports from all convictions in the state within the past ten years
A background investigation authorization
You may also need to attend a hearing.
If the board denies your pardon, it will automatically consider your eligibility for a provisional pardon. This does not erase your criminal history, but it makes it easier for you to find employment and get certain professional licenses.
How Do I Get Help?
Connecticut laws on erasure and pardons can be complicated. The application for a pardon is long and the required documentation can be confusing. To help ensure you get it right, it is a good idea to talk with a criminal attorney.